September 29, 2016


Insurance Commissioner Donelon Warns of Increased Deaths, Costs Due to Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic in Louisiana

For the first time in a decade some mortality rates in the United States are rising and that’s due, in part, to more people dying from drug overdoses. The problem is particularly acute in Louisiana which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has an overdose death rate exceeding the national average. Also a recent study released by the Workers Compensation Research Institute found that one in six injured workers in Louisiana was identified as having longer-term use of opioids, the most prevalent out of the 25 states included in the two-year study period. High and long-term opioid use can lead to addiction, increased disability or work loss and even death, according to the study.

“This is certainly not a list Louisiana wants to top,” said Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. “In addition to the costs to individuals and families that these drug abuses and opioid dependencies cause, there is also a cost to the insurance system as a whole. Louisiana workers have a higher frequency of opioid use when injured than most other states. This is a dangerous trend that has reached crisis proportions.”

The Louisiana Department of Insurance is sounding the alarm in order to bring attention to the problems that are caused by these issues and highlight the ways multiple agencies and government entities are fighting back.

Fast Facts about opioid abuse and addiction:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 750 people in Louisiana died of drug overdoses in 2014. The CDC also reports a 300 percent increase in opioid prescription sales nationally since 1999.
  • The death toll rose for the first time in ten years for certain demographic groups—primarily middle-aged white and lower income Americans—attributed in part to opioids, suicide and chronic liver disease according to a study by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project
  • More than 6.2 million pounds of medication have been collected by the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The next event will be held on Saturday, October 22 and provides a safe, convenient way of disposing of unneeded or expired prescription drugs.

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription opioid abuse or addiction, disclose this fact to a doctor or primary care physician. You can use the search tool on the American Society of Addiction Medicine website to find a physician who specializes in addiction. You can also call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), an addiction helpline that is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


About the Louisiana Department of Insurance: The Louisiana Department of Insurance works to improve competition in the state’s insurance market while assisting individuals and businesses with the information and resources they need to be informed consumers of insurance. As a regulator, the LDI enforces the laws that provide a fair and stable marketplace and makes certain that insurers comply with the laws in place to protect policyholders. You can contact the LDI by calling 1-800-259-5300 or visiting